In his second season as artistic director, William (Bill) Earl Ray has made a concerted effort to select shows that highlight Jubilee Theatre's mission of "producing and creating theatrical works that give voice to the African-American experience."
Last year, only one of the six plays was by a black writer. This year, the two mainstage plays are by black women and the three musicals — all revues — are black-created and feature Motown or blues music.
Instead of the sixth traditional mainstage spots, the 2017-18 season will be replaced by a spotlight music series: one featuring dueling divas (October 6-8, 2017) and the other dedicated to gospel (October 20-22, 2017). DeMille Cole-Heard will also be at the Scott Theatre in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center on November 10, 2017, performing his one-man show Saturday Nights Sunday Mornings: The Story ofAl Green.
First up in the mainstage season is A Motown Christmas, originally created in 2015 by Nate Jacobs and the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. Christmas tunes from Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and The Jackson 5 populate the family-friendly show, which runs November 24-December 24, 2017.
Dominique Morisseau's Detroit ‘67 kicks off 2018, a little over 50 years past the play's setting. Two siblings, who are running an after-hours joint in their basement to make ends meet, encounter a mysterious woman while the streets erupt in violence — all played to a driving '60s Motown beat. It runs January 26-February 25, 2018.
Over two dozen musical numbers are included in the Tony-nominated musical revue It Ain’t Nothin' But the Blues, which spans African chants and Delta spirituals to the urban electricity of a Chicago nightclub, the bluegrass of dusty back roads, and the twang of a country juke joint. Listen for the songs “I’m Your Hoochie-Coochie Man,” “Goodnight, Irene,” “Fever,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” and “Let the Good Times Roll.” With book, lyrics, and music by Charles Bevel, Lita Gaithers, Randal Myler, Ron Taylor, and Dan Wheetman, and based on an idea by Ron Taylor, the musical runs March 16-April 15, 2018.
Broadway got Lydia R. Diamond's Stick Fly in 2011, but now we get the family drama about the affluent, African-American LeVay family, who gathers at their Martha’s Vineyard home for the weekend. Brothers Kent and Flip have each brought their respective ladies home to meet the parents for the first time, but the two newcomers butt heads over issues of race and privilege, causing longstanding family tensions to boil over when secrets are revealed. It runs May 25-June 24, 2018.
Blues in the Night, conceived by Sheldon Epps, is set in a rundown Chicago hotel in 1938 and focuses on three women’s relationships with the same “snake-of-a-man.” Their interweaving stories are told through the torch songs and blues of Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, and Alberta Hunter, among others. Jubilee last performed the Tony-nominated musical in 2010 and now it's back by popular demand, running July 27-August 26, 2018.
Season ticket prices range from $99-$250 and are now available online at www.jubileetheatre.org or by calling the box office at 817-338-4411.